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Today I picked up this paratrooper knife from the son of a soldier who was in the 80th Inf. Div., and was killed in Luxembourg in 1945.
The man had this paratrooper knife and an Eickhorn officer's dagger with portapee that had been given to him by an uncle when he was a boy. The uncle knew the boy's father would never be returning, so he gave him some of his own war booty. He has kept it until now but finally decide to sell it. The knife is marked Weyersburg, and has an original leather lanyard attached. The uncle told the boy that he removed the knife from the dead body of a German paratrooper that he helped cut down out of a tree, but the man cannot now remember where it was.


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Fallschirmjaeger knife


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Great Score Don!!
I have a weakness for these.


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Thanks Bob. I never owned one before.


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Nice Don. The lanyard is about 10 times rarer than the knife.

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Nice knife and lanyard. Your lanyard is private purchase.

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HerrWolf, You say this is a private purchase lanyard? Do you have a photo of an official issue model? Thanks, Jerry Burney


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Both of these knives were acquired from 101st Airborne veterans.
The top example is a SMF and you'll note the lanyard of braided threads is looped around and sewn on the staple loop in a non-removable fashion.
The other knife is a Weyersberg, but the gray fabric lanyard is just attached with a (now weak) spring loaded hook.
I had another example with a lanyard from a 101st guy, but I sold it about 10 years ago. That one was braided and attached much the same as the one at the top in this photo, except the braids appeared to be made of horse hair or some similar-appearing material.

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Is there any evidence that paratroopers were ever issued a lanyard for their knives. For example, does it feature in their Soldbucher ?

Regards,
Steve

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I saw a lanyard, still in a small box, that had a Luftwaffe acceptance stamp. Whether that means it was issued or simply approved or vetted, I do not know.

Dave

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Dave-
What more 'evidence' do you need that such lanyards were issued?
I've now acquired 3 FJ gravity knives which were equipped with lanyards, directly from 101st Airborne vets, who liberated them on the battlefield.
Two of three had permanently-attached lanyards, sewn around the staple loop on the handle and those were certainly not put-on by the American vets after acquiring the knives.
The vets I got the permanently-attached lanyard knives from do not know each other and were from different regiments (D. Zahn H/506th PIR, and E. Beach HQ/2 501 PIR). The 3rd example, with detachable laynard, came from H.Clark of B/506th PIR. He does not know either of the other two vets.
The interesting thing is all 3 lanyards were the same total length-approx. '26 inches'.
The common denominator besides all these guys being in the 101st Airborne, is that they all fought against FJR 6 in Normandy and again in Holland.
As to the Soldbuch question, I have at least 4 FJ Soldbucher, none of which record issue of the FJ gravity messer.
So why would they bother to list an 'accessory' such as a lanyard, if even the knife itself is not listed?
Since MANY FJ gravity knives appear on the market and in collections and few seem to have lanyards, I suppose people are reluctant to accept 'new' evidence that such accessories existed. Well think how relatively few tan and green camo FJ helmets are in collections, compared to standard blue-gray, factory-painted
versions. Does this mean the camo'd ones didn't exist? Out of the total of all FJ helmets worn in WW2, there were far fewer tan and green camo'd ones, but I would bet that a large percentage of the personnel in FJR 6 were wearing them in Normandy.
The question becomes, how many of those were saved or salvaged from destruction or burial?

That was one regiment, in which possibly the use of knife lanyards was also as common as wear of helmets with this camo'd paint scheme?

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Here's a detailed close-up showing how the braided lanyard was attached to the knife liberated by Don Zahn of H/506th.
It was obviously not meant to be detachable.

The example I got from Beach (501) was braided in exactly the same manner and also attached the same way-except that his example looked more like braided horsehair. Zahn's example looks more like some mass-produced thread.
BTW, I bought a total of three (3)FJ knives from Zahn. The other two did not have lanyards. The one that does (shown here), was made by SMF-it was a beautiful specimen-more attractive than the others, but unfortunately, he broke about 3/4" of the end of the blade-off, when prying something open with it. Of the other two, one was a Weyersburg and the other had a totally unmarked blade.
From Zahn I also bought a pair of FJ gauntlets,
a Luft M43 cap, a book 'So Wird Mann Fallschirmjager', but I missed a FJ splinter smock, which another collector bought before I met him.

The opposite end of the braided lanyard is also sewn in a round loop, to which a metal hook is threaded through. Each loop is reinforced with thread wrapped around many times, just below the loop.
Were it not for the extreme similarity in loop construction, style of braid, length of lanyards and provenance from men in different regiments of the 101st, I would think this was a one of a kind modification, rather than a somewhat standardized practice within FJR 6.
The gray cotton, tightly woven example from Clark (B/506th)is more utilitarian, not braided but the same length as the two braided examples.

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I apologize for addressing my response to Dave-when I meant to say 'Steve'.
I occurs to me that the grey lanyard was mass-produced, but it's possible that some handy type guy in FJR 6 'made' braided lanyards and supplied them to his buddies for a fee. He may have made them the same length as the mass- produced gray type? Who knows?
I think the FJ messer lanyard is just an ultra rare accessory, such as the FJ knife carrying cases. I've seen two examples of those, in the collection of the late Bill Lasky of Allen Park, MI. One was made of dark brown or black leather and the other of tan web material, similar to an Afrika Korps belt or a British Webley holster.
This accessory WAS made during WW2, probably by one of the dagger companies, and it is illustrated in one of Thomas Johnson's higher-numbered dagger reference books.
So even though mass-produced, I'd bet that most collectors have never even seen one and many others don't realize these FJ knife cases existed.
On the outside, they look very similar to modern belt cases, made to carry folding pocket knives.
The FJ knife lanyards are probably in an equally obscure and rare category.

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Hi Mark,
I think you misinterpreted my comment. It is very clear lanyards were issued with gravity knives, especially for Luftwaffe flight crews. The type below is the most commonly seen.
My question was specifically about the issue of lanyards to FJ troops. The types you show I would call "non standard", so I think your theory of a handy fitter in the unit supplying them sounds pretty good.
We know string helmet nets are sometimes recorded in Soldbuch, I would have thought lanyards would be the same. Interesting that you say the knives themselves were not listed.
Chris, have you seen any listed ?
Sorry if I didn't make myself clear. Nice knives !
Regards,
Steve

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I have never seen an entry separately for the lanyard, which was probably too small and too inconsequential (like a pencil or something) to be an accountable item. I have seen several different styles, of which the one Steve shows is the most common. The one shown close up on the lanyard ring by Mr. Bando almost looks like a bootlace adapted for the purpose. That type of threadwork holding it on was called "frapping." My dad learned the technique in the Boy Scouts in the 1920's and taught it to me. They did that to the tips of shoelaces in the old days, before plastic tips were common. I think we're all in agreement that various types of lanyards were produced and are rare. Occasionally, another small strap of the period (such as the little strings which came on the celluloid map holders) are found on gravity knives, too. I would like to see some photographs of the holder. I would especially like to see a period photograph of one being worn. Flight clothing and FJ pants had pockets for the knife, so I don't know why a holster would be required. Just because something is in a book (as the author of four of them) doesn't mean it's true, or original. The jury's still out on that one, in my mind at least.

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The lanyard posted by Steve 'looks' like a bootlace. There is nothing remotely resembling a bootlace on the lanyard I posted a closeup of. That braided lanyard is about 3/8" wide, and somewhat flat, far too large to put through any boot eyelet I've ever seen. It is literally 3-4 times wider than a typical bootlace.
As to the gravity knife cases, I also wondered why they would be needed in light of the special pocket provided on the leg of FJ trousers. But don't forget that those knives were also considered general utility knives for the Luftwaffe, carried by aircraft flight crews as well as paratroops, so possibly the cases were made for them?
Someday, vintage photos probably will surface of them in wear. Mr Lasky bought all his stuff from vets-he didn't have to buy from other collectors or dealers. I don't know if he ever recorded the names of the vets he bought the gravity knife cases from, but it's a pretty good bet he didn't get them from a dealer. Lasky died about 5 years ago-too bad, he had a box full of items he had set aside to sell me in future years (as my discretionary spending money became available) and those knife cases were among them. He also had a SS officer's bullion sleeve eagle, which had been damaged when being removed from a tunic. He had received that from a vet who served as a guard at the SS trials at Dachau, which took place soon after the war. He couldn't prove it, but the guard had cut this eagle from one of Otto Skorzeny's tunics.
When Mr Lasky died, one of his younger relatives, (who is also a TR collector) inherited all his WWII stuff and he has not let any of it go since then.

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This might already be obvious to most of you, but the reason why a lanyard on a FJ knife was a good idea, is that those knives were sometimes needed in emergencies, like tree landings. When hanging suspended in a tree, it was often necessary to cut the harness or suspension lines, to get down to the ground. Dropping one's knife in that situation would be disastrous. Having the knife attached to a lanyard would allow a paratrooper to retrieve the knife in case that happened.
I know that some American paras also attached a lamnyard to the smaller M2 switchblade jump knife they carried in a special small pocket below their neck. To my knowlegde such US Para M2 knife lanyards were 'Improvised' and not mass-produced-at least not as early as WWII.
There is some photo evidence that these were worn, but I have never seen nor received one with any of the dozen or so M2 knives I've acquired from the 992 101st Airborne vets I've interviewed in the past 38 years. So I'd say that WWII vintage, improvised M2 knife lanyards are even less-common than German gravity knife lanyards.

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Would be interesting to know if Don Bible's knife lanyard also measures 26 inches in length.

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I for one would like to thank Mr. Bando for his articulate and instructive postings. Love them � thanks much and keep 'em coming!!

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Mark, I don't check this forum frequently as I am not a collector of para materials. I just stumbled on a couple of items directly from veterans families. That is why I only just now saw your question about the length of the leather lanyard on the knife I have. I just measured it. It is 32 inches long. Although it is not for sale, I will bring it to SOS for you to see if you plan to be there.


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Here is the one i have owned for over 35 years,,it is also pictured in Wittmann's Luft book page 377
the lanyard is 22" long including the snap attachment.. 1/4" flat braided leather..DAVE H

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Hi, Just had to chime in- I once acquired a takedown-model equipped with pull-chain from a mauser cleaning-kit attached for a lanyard. Along with it came a maroon Handshar-fez! The brother of the vet from whom I purchased it could not elaborate where or how acquired.

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forget the lanyard,,what about the case! Big Grin

From one of my old ref. books,,circa 1980.. ,,worth a whole 3 bills even with case!!

Was there really a case?

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I do not believe cases to be an issue item. George P. found an original shipping carton of gravity knives about 30 years ago, with seven of the ten knives still in the carton. Each of the seven remaining knives was in an individual cardboard box. I bought the last of these about five years ago when he sold his collection.

There may have been cases such as the one in the B&W photo shown, but if so they were private purchase accessories and did not get issued to aircrew and Fallschirmj�ger personnel with the knives. On the other hand, I believe lanyards were issued with the knives, to prevent loss. The case shown would also fit the postwar knives, which are virtually identical in size to the wartime models, so the case shown may be postwar as well.

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I got a gravity knife about 25 years that was brought back with a expertly hand made brown leather case (very well worn and molded to the knife from age/wear) that was very similar in design to the one pictured.

It had no means to be attached on a belt and the flap had a slit for the bale to protrude for a laynard to be worn in conjunction with the case.

I sold the knife and case to a dealer about 15 years ago so it is probably in a "big" collection today.

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Congratulation All,

nice items ! Wink

Sebastien.


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